Asian adventure!

Asian adventure!

Singapore - Image taken from Minmax travel
Singapore – Image taken from Minmax travel

I’m packing my bags and heading to Asia!

Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai and maybe even a cheeky trip to Bangkok are all on the cards so I would love your help to create a list of things to try whilst I am over there!

When I went to Vietnam I created “The Hungry List” with a number of things to look out for on my travels, so let’s add to this?

So far I’ve been requested to try:

  • Sea Turtle
  • Balut Egg (covered this in Vietnam as Hot Vit Lon)
  • Dog Meat
  • Pig Fallopian tubes (ick ick ick!)
  • Stinky fermented tofu
  • Elephant poo coffee (anything like Weasel Poo coffee?)
  • Durian
  • Frog legs
  • Pig Blood Cake

So keep em coming and I’ll update the list as we go!

By the way… I don’t just eat strange foods (well strange to us in Australia!) I actually would love to know what foods I simply must try that are really delicious!

I am already drooling over Kaya Toast for breakfast mmm.

Stay tuned this Friday 28th June I try out Alpaca as part of the Melbourne Food and Wine festival roast collection! I think it will taste like sheep or goat?

Mmm Alpaca
Mmm Alpaca
Nem Nuong… Nom nom nom

Nem Nuong… Nom nom nom

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An excellent recommendation from our guide in Dalat was to try “Nem Nuong”…

A do it yourself type arrangement, Nem Nuong is served as BBQ pork strips with crispy pork skin, pickled salad veggies, Vietnamese herbs (mint, coriander etc), garlic and red onions and rice paper.

You basically throw all the ingredients into the rice paper, constructing them into hand rolls yourself, then dip them into a satay style sauce.

A great blend of tastes, and judging how busy the restaurant was at 4pm in low season it’s quite a popular dish!

Next challenge is to find some in Melbourne or move to Dalat

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Bahn Cuon and Canh Chua Ca oh my!

Bahn Cuon and Canh Chua Ca oh my!

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So we’re in Hoi An… And about to leave which is a shame as it’s a fantastic place!

In case you were wondering not everything we eat here is for a challenge, we’ve had some amazingly normal tasty dishes since arriving.

2 in particular that were on the list were astoundingly great!

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Weasel Poo Coffee???

Weasel Poo Coffee???

Yep… you read that right…

Coffee… made out of poo…

Well technically that’s not completely true, it’s halfway there, but I’ll get to that…

My friend has recommended that when in Vietnam I try to look up this delicacy that comes in at a very hefty price (apparently about $50 a cup or up to $600 per pound for the beans). She managed to locate some of the ground beans, but never actually got to try the brew.

So now I have been charged with a mission to find some. According to what I’ve managed to research from internet sites and other blogs, the coffee is delicious and definitely worth trying!

Would you trust this weasel?

Here’s how the strange stuff comes about… The coffee is made out of coffee berries that have been digested by a weasel type creature called an “Asian Palm Civet” who poops out the indigestible coffee beans, which are scooped up, washed and given a light roast then ground into coffee like a normal bean.

“Kopi Luwak” (I prefer “Weasel Poo Coffee”) is apparently very unique in flavour, and whilst inside the civet/weasel, the bitterness is leached away by stomach enzymes which actually starts the bean to germinate in the digestive tract… mmm delicious?

Gross-out factor aside, and provided I can afford some since it’s the most expensive coffee in the world (it’s been around since the 1800’s and is very popular and sought after in many countries), I guess I’d better pop by Dak Lak province when in Nam and visit the weasel farm for a cuppa…

I wonder if it tastes nice with Soy Milk?

The poo... or coffee... :/

More fun facts about Weasel Poo Coffee can be found at this handy site… Weasel Poo Coffee

Don’t trust a ham sandwich…

Don’t trust a ham sandwich…

The root of all evil

There are a few things i’ve learned about unsafe food so far on my travels that will hopefully assist me and my stomach in the future…

Imagine for a moment… you’ve woken up in the idyllic setting of a Railay Beach resort in Thailand, keen to get around doing some rock climbing, or scuba diving or generally hang out on the beach… you wake up 1/2 an hour before you have to so that you can gulp down 2 imodium with water and lie there fingers crossed that they take hold for the next few hours… you know at this stage that if you stand up at any point, you will be calling god from the porcelain telephone all morning or worse things will come from the other end… you know this because this is the same routine you have had to endure for the past week…

… all because of a ham sandwich… a last-minute… “yeah whatever, that will do…” ham sandwich…

The kitchens of Thailand, as a general rule don’t really follow the same strict refrigeration rules and regulations we have come to enjoy in Australia, and their preparation procedures can sometimes leave a lot to be desired as well. I know you’re probably thinking “duh, of course! Why would you even eat a ham sandwich over there?” and my answer would be… 

“Yes… I’m an idiot” I didn’t think… I thought I’d be ok… and I let my concentration lapse. 

Even though losing 11kgs in 2 weeks might seem a blessing to some, getting dysentery whilst overseas (I’m lucky it wasn’t worse and my imodium x buscopan concoction worked) isn’t for the faint hearted and can leave you incredibly weak, incredibly tired and it incredibly f*cks up your trip… So here’s a list of things to consider food wise (more so in S.E Asia) to hopefully help others avoid my messy fate: 

  • Don’t drink the water…
  • See above… ice = water… don’t drink that either
  • See above above… Shakes (i.e. Mango Lassi or any Lassi etc.) = water
  • If you are going to drink the water, buy those purifying tablets (even though they taste like crap)
  • Boiling water first also works a treat
  • Bottled water = OK 🙂
  • Don’t drink the shower water and use bottled water to brush your teeth
  • Avoid Cold meat platters, cheese platters
  • Avoid unpasteurized dairy products (check the labels)
  • Eat where lots of people eat… never eat from a street vendor with no-one there
  • Eat what you can see has been or is being freshly cooked
  • Wash your hands before you eat… there is always poo on them apparently
  • Make sure the water you wash your hands with is “safe water”
  •  Check that the cutlery is not too filthy… cutlery sometimes = hands
  • Beware of raw meats, runny eggs and fruit you haven’t peeled yourself
  • Edit from wordpress comment: Avoid shellfish as the refrigeration temps are all over the place (Thanks Misty!)
  • And the best of the best tip… Alcohol and spice is everything nice! They both contain goodies that kill germs… while this isn’t a foolproof remedy I can recommend this option!

So there you have it… if there are any other suggestions or home remedies to prevent against or cure getting food poisoning I’d love to hear them!

Can I eat that?

Can I eat that?

Is that edible? Are you going to finish that? Can I try some of yours?

Life is a revolving door of food and drink. Major life events are planned around it and the mundane reality of the day is broken up by it.

If you have never tried a particular food before how do you know if you like it or not? I was lucky enough to be brought up in a family where the words “oh I dont like that” food were never uttered and no matter what dish was served, it was expected to be finished. The chef (generally my mum) was always to be complimented… a task that wasnt hard in a kitchen that served dishes like fresh sushi 15 years before the Sushi Sushi invasion, delicious Kelapa lamb curries before greasy take-away indian and hearty home meals that never allowed for leftovers. Take-away food was a once in a fortnight rarity…

Such varied gastronomic beginnings have stood me in good stead for travelling, with a willingness to try new food with abandon… both locally (within Australia) and abroad, the prospect of sampling new food fills me with excitement and a chance to challenge myself… The stand-out memories from every single trip I have been on have revolved around food and drink, the pictures I have taken seem to always have such a theme, from roasted half a pig in Munich Germany, “meat bird” (chicken) in Sigatoka Fiji and the hottest green curry that gave me the ability to see through time in Koh Phangan Thailand…

So the challenge begins. Can I cross off the list of both standard and exotic fare that I have not already tried?

The next trip I embark on is to Vietnam… can I bring myself to eat White ant eggs, soft-shell turtle, fertilised duck egg or raw blood soup? I dont know… do they taste good? There is only one way to find out… though perhaps some of those dishes are too left of center even for myself…

This isn’t going to be some sort of Chanie vs. Food adventure or a mission to eat the grossest dishes out there… I’m sure I can find the most delicious Bahn Cuon (Rice paper rolls), Pho (Vietnamese Soup) or Glazed curries (Glazed curries?) to tempt everyone’s tastebuds but I also wont rule out other “delicacies” if they are on offer…

Except dog… too many of my friends will kill me if I do that.

Come with me on my journey… recommendations on what to sample are welcome and I will endeavour to try them and report back…

White ant soup
Banh Cuon